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An Artistic Dialogue: John Heward and Harold Klunder

Curator: Paul Machnik

Artist talk on Facebook Live: Thursday, January 7 at 5 pm
Virtual Art Hive (Zoom): Saturday, January 30 from 10 am to 12 pm
Exhibition: January 8 to 30, 2021

The McClure Gallery of the Visual Arts Centre is pleased to begin the year with the presentation of the collaborative works of Canadian abstract artists Harold Klunder and the late John Heward. They came together to collaborate on a series of unique prints with Montreal printmaker Paul Machnik. Both artists had worked independently with Paul at Studio PM in Montreal for years, and decided to explore the medium of carborundum in tandem with one another.

The resulting works, which evolved over a period of eleven years from 2008-2019, are a testament to their shared appreciation for the experimental approach. These works mark a noteworthy and historic collaboration between esteemed Canadian artists, and stand as “un hommage” of one artist to another, as the prints were concluded in the month prior to John’s passing.

As Harold Klunder put it, “The process was very direct, there were no second takes – I’m just glad we were able to get it down”.

John Heward
John Heward was born in Montreal in 1934. He was a renowned Canadian painter and sculptor widely exhibited and collected, as well as an internationally recognized percussionist in free jazz. He was an influential figure in the development of abstraction and improvisation in both visual art and music.

Since the sixties, John pursued an intuitive and unique pictorial and sculptural practice. He was inspired by aesthetic codes borrowed as much from abstract expressionism as from minimal art. As an artist he alternated between artistic improvisation and methodical exploration. He favoured the raw aspect of canvas, rayon, vinyl, paper, bronze, steel and aluminum using spontaneous gestures to achieve an oscillation between abstraction and geometry. Heward allowed a piece to occupy the space while presenting the work as an object that is constantly changing.

Heward began working with master printer Paul Machnik at Studio PM in 1998 and over the years enjoyed a unique and fruitful collaboration, producing a number of etchings, drypoint and aquatint prints. The process was well suited to Heward’s gestural mark-making and sparse but forceful compositional minimalism. In 2008 and again in 2017-18, Heward collaborated with fellow artist Harold Klunder at Studio PM to create a series of etchings and large carborundum prints that reflect Heward’s improvisational aesthetic and experimental ethos.

John Heward passed away in 2018.

Harold Klunder
Harold Klunder was born in 1943 in Deventer, the Netherlands. In 1952, he immigrated to Canada with his parents and siblings. Klunder is one of Canada’s most acclaimed painters. His richly coloured, layered canvases are executed slowly over time and include elements of both abstraction and figuration, creating what the artist calls “a psychic realism”. Between 2000 and 2021 Klunder split his time between Montreal and Flesherton, his home of many years, maintaining a studio in both cities and continued to teach workshops across Canada.

While Harold Klunder is known predominantly for his work in oil, printmaking has been a consistent and significant aspect of his practice throughout his career. Printmaking offers, as the artist notes, “an immediacy that allows for creative explorations to take form with a distinct sense of urgency. The remarkable and nuanced collaborative and social aspect of printmaking allows for a constant dialogue and an evolving narrative.”

Klunder has worked with many printers over the years, including lithographers David Umholtz and Charles Marsh at Moosehead Press, Winnipeg, Otis Tamasauskas and George Maslov in Ontario. In Montreal he has worked with Christian Lepoul at Atelier Circulaire, as well as on woodblock prints with Alan Flint. In 2011, the artist produced a series of carborundum prints with Alain and Agathe Piroir at Atelier-Galerie A. Piroir. Since 2002, he has worked regularly with Paul Machnik at Studio PM, creating a number of etchings and most recently the series of carborundum prints in collaboration with John Heward with whom he shared both a musical and artistic bond.

Harold Klunder currently resides in Flesherton, Ontario with his partner, artist Catherine Carmichael.

Listen to Harold Klunder discuss his process and work in the current McClure Gallery exhibition with former Director of the VAC, Victoria LeBlanc.  The interview touches not only on the individual works in the show, but the very nature of collaboration, in this case between Klunder and fellow artist and friend, the late John Heward, as well as master print-maker Paul Machnik.

Read the transcript

Le Studio PM of Montreal is a fine art printmaking workshop established in 1978 by master printmaker Paul Machnik, who apprenticed under Richard Lacroix at La Guilde Graphique, Montreal. Studio PM has editioned original work in etching and aquatint by renowned artists such as Betty Goodwin, Alfred Pellan, Jack Shadbolt, Kenojuak Ashevak and others. Since 1994 the Studio has printed etchings and aquatints that are included in the Fall and Spring Cape Dorset (Kinngait) Annual Print Collection.

Paul and his partner Bess Muhlstock have conducted printmaking workshops in the Canadian Arctic as well as with the Chukotka people in Eastern Siberia and the Australian Aboriginal peoples in North Queensland.
The prints produced by Studio PM are in major collections throughout the world including the National Gallery, Ottawa, the Museum of Civilization, Hull, Quebec and the Musée de L’Homme in Paris.

View images of the exhibition

*price list available upon request: galeriemcclure@visualartscentre.ca

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